There is hardly a person who saw this mountainous region of Georgia and had not fallen in love with majestic, unique beauty of the land of towers…Foreigners who come to Svaneti once want to return there again and again, while its inhabitants are always ready to welcome guests with genuine hospitality of mountainous people. Svaneti is a special corner of Georgia, with a special spirit, special history and customs... Lets start the journey to the clouds! It starts from airports of Kutaisi, Batumi or Tbilisi. Note, that if it is Tbilisi that you fly to, you will have to add another day to your schedule.
Duration: 4 days / 3 nights;
Length: 550 km;
Overnight stay: Mestia.
Day 1. Transfer: Zugdidi - Mestia
During the entire stay in Svaneti you will be at an altitude of 1500-2500 meters. But first you will need to get there. A road to the mountains begins in the town of Zugdidi where you can make a short stop to look at the main local attraction. Zugdidi Museum is the former palace of the rulers of the region of Samegrelo - the Dadiani, which houses one of the three death masks of Napoleon and some other relics of Bonapartists brought to Georgia by Prince Murat.
After highway changes into a serpentine mountain road, the first landmark of Svaneti - grand dam Enguri will appear before us. It is one of the largest dams in the world- 271.5 meters high and 728 meters long. The dam, by just looking at which our heads become dizzy, blocks a picturesque gorge of the harsh River Enguri and forms a beautiful reservoir which is framed with wooded mountains. Special observation deck will be a goodplace to take photos of the landscape from.
And then comes the time of Svaneti itself! Wild landscapes, patriarchal villages and ancient traditions with pagan roots! Mestia is the capital of the mountainous region. The Regional Museum of History and Ethnography of Svaneti is a real storehouse of historical artifacts and ancient manuscripts. The first meeting with the Svan culture will continue over a dinner with original dishes of Svaneti cuisine. If you still have enough energy after you are settled in the guest house you may use the rest of the evening to walk around Mestia getting better acquainted with this mountainous town.
Day 2. Sightseeing: Mestia - Ushguli - Mestia
You have already seen famous Svan towers that guard every village in this region. But today we are going to a place where there these harsh lodgings of the people with strong fighting spirit are particularly abundant. Europes highest mountain village is located in the most eastern part of Svaneti, at 2200 meters above sea level. Ushguli is the community of four villages and historically presented the backbone of the former Upper Svaneti. Its name literally translates as Fearless Heart. Another name for these places is free Svaneti as neither feudal nor invader ever subdued the locals.
During the six months of the year Ushguli area is covered with snow. The rest of time the panorama of rocky peaks covered with glittering ice is livened up by emerald alpine meadows and low mountain forest. All this is overlooked from a height of 5068 meters by Shkhara - one of the most powerful mountains of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. While between narrow gorges there are dwellings of Svans picturesquely scattered, the earliest of which date to the IX century. This place brings alive and together allessence of primeval nature and live history of the ancient people. When in Ushguli one may feel as though a thousand years ago someone simply bottled the time...
Ushguli itself is an open air museum. Local architectural ensemble, including dozens of towers, brought Upper Svaneti the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other monuments can be seen in a private ethnographic museum, which is located in the house of the XVI century and is always open to guests. Another artifact of the Middle Ages - the church of the Assumption of the Mother of God that dates back to the XII century with the melodic name of Lamaria. The Svans believe that it is here that Queen Tamar of Georgia, the greatest ruler of Georgia whose life and death is covered with legends, is buried.
Day 3. Sightseeing: Mestia - Chalaadi - Khatsvali - Mestia
As you know, better than mountains can be only mountains... Svaneti is a Mecca for climbers from all over the world. Therefore it is impossible to visit Svaneti and not try to conquer the snow-capped peaks! But we will leave this difficult climb to professionals and content ourselves with justa few walks to fully appreciate beauty and majesty of the mountains of Svaneti.
As the first stop will be Chalaati glacier you will need to dress warmly. A wild rocky road runs through the forest, along a beautiful mountain river gorge. It begins with a stream that flows from the ice and almost immediately turns into a raging torrent. Glacial water has a tart taste. Chalaati array itself is one of the largest in the Caucasus. It is situated under rocks of the impregnable two-peak beauty - Ushba- a mountain, which has been the cause of awe admiration for generations of climbers.
Even more fascinating panorama opens from the rope-way. Khatsvali is the youngest and richest in snow ski resort of Georgia! The length of the ropeway is 1400 meters that you pass in 10 minutes while admiring views that gradually open before your eyes. Khatsvali will award you with not only a new angle of Ushba, but also a great view of the other famous mountain - Tetnuldi. According to a local legend Ushba and Tetnuldi were lovers, a boy and a girl, whom an evil fate did not allow to marry. So they were frozen with grief turning into two mountains separated by a deep gorge...
Day 4. Transfer: Mestia - Zugdidi
You would not want to leave Svaneti. You will surely come back here again for a new portion of hot meat pie of Kubdari, touching legends and folk tales, traditions and those beautiful bright experiences that only incredible beauty of the Caucasus Mountains can give. But now for the last time we have a lunch in Mestia, go down the winding serpentine to Zugdidi and get you to the airport. We know that you would head off only to prepare for another, more substantial trip to Georgia, and we will be waiting for your return...